99 cent eBooks

I just made a comment on JC Hutchins blog (Why You Won’t Find My eBooks In the Bargain Basement), which was also a response to the indie-bashing (disguised as concern for authors) in the recent Huffington Post article (Why 99-Cent e-Books Are a Bad Deal -- For Authors).

I'm going to re-post my comment here, where I can provide more links. It's a hot topic, and I find my fellow podcasters are sometimes out of touch with the indie community that publishes in text. We need to talk more. Audio books and eBooks are two sides of the same coin.

My response to JC:

Hi, JC. I haven't commented on your blog before, but I do read it. I'm glad to hear you're moving into eBooks. I really think that what's happening with Kindle and ebooks right now (i.e. indie authors making a living) would have happened with iPods and audio books if anyone had made it easy to sell audio books in iTunes. Alas, nobody did.

As for your current post - Why are you selling eBooks? Is it to make money? Or to validate your ego? If it's the latter, then price them however you want. For me personally, $10 is just as much an insult as 99 cents. My books are priceless...to me. ;)

But if you're selling books to make money, then you want to price them to maximize profit. This is not an intellectual exercise. This is small business, and other people have already done a lot of research for you. Indie authors have meticulously collected and published this data over the last few years.

And you're sneering at them.

You appear to be siding with the Huffington Post - a publication famed for paying many of its contributors exactly zero. Stop sneering. Read the hard-earned data from those in the trenches.

I'm sure you're sick of hearing about Joe Konrath, but if you haven't actually looked at his data, you should. Specifically, read about his experiment with The List. Then read the interviews he's done with people like Victorine Lieske, John Locke, Michael Sullivan [Edit - look at the interview with Robin Sullivan, Michael's wife and publisher], and Barry Eisler. The whole series of interviews he did at the beginning of the year was eye-opening.

Everyone suddenly has an opinion about Amanda Hocking, but people reading her blog knew she'd made a million dollars before St. Martins made her famous. Have you actually looked at what she did and how she did it? Look at what David Dalglish is doing. Look at Robin Sullvian's blog and her meticulous statistics. Hang out in the Writer's Cafe on Kindle Boards for a while and just listen.

No, 99 cents is not the right price for all eBooks. Nobody is saying it is. These authors are not clinging to their prices like shellfish to a rock in stormy seas. These authors are experimenting.

Sometimes 99 cents is a good experiment. It is one weapon in the indie author's arsenal, and it's a powerful weapon. That is why New York is whining.

All eBooks do seem to have a pricing sweet spot where you maximize sales and profits. Authors find that sweet spot by experiment, not by marching into the Kindle, saying, "By God, I will sell my books at this price though the heavens fall!"